Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Mid-American Conference season wrap
By Graham Watson
Dan LeFevour couldn’t have scripted a better end to his Mid-American Conference career.
Leon Halip-US PRESSWIREQuarterback Dan LeFevour finishes his Central Michigan career as the Chippewas leader in many offensive categories.
LeFevour helped the Chippewas to an undefeated MAC season and a conference title. He won his first game against an AQ opponent, became the MAC’s all-time leader in passing and the country’s all-time leader in touchdowns.
LeFevour not only finished his career as the face of Central Michigan, but also the face of the conference.
And it was a good year to showcase the MAC.
For the first time since 2004, the MAC had three teams with at least nine wins and for the first time since 2005, the conference has five teams with at least seven wins. Both the West and East Divisions came down to the final weeks of the regular season to decide a championship and teams such as Ohio and Bowling Green played the final fourth of the season like a series of elimination games. Ohio earned its first division championship since 2006 and Bowling Green was the only team with a new non-AQ head coach to finish the regular season with a winning record. Both teams are going bowling.
And then there was one of the biggest success stories of the season in Temple. The Owls fell a game short of their first divisional title and conference championship berth, but still managed to finish with their best record since 1979.
The MAC still has a ways to go to catch up to some of its non-AQ brethren, but this year could be the breakthrough season it was looking for.
Offensive MVP: Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour
There’s no doubt that LeFevour was the best offensive player in the conference this year. While his numbers might have been down from his sophomore season, he was still the most complete and dangerous player in the league. LeFevour finishes his career as the leader in total offensive yards (15,140), attempts (1,669), completions (1,110), passing yards (12,255) and is tied for second in touchdown passes (99).
Defensive MVP: Temple defensive end Adrian Robinson
Robinson led the MAC and tied for tenth in the country with 12 sacks. He also had 42 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and one interception. He helped Temple become the 20th-ranked rushing defense in the country.
Newcomer of the Year: Temple running back Bernard Pierce
Pierce led the MAC and ranked 13th in the nation in rushing with 1,308 yards on 224 carries and 15 rushing touchdowns. He was the Owls most effective offensive weapon and helped them rank 21st in the country in rushing with an average of 192.3 yards per game.
Coach of the Year: Temple’s Al Golden
In his fourth season as head coach, Golden led the Owls to a 9-3 overall record, 7-1 in the MAC. That record included nine consecutive wins during the season. The Owls have improved every season under Golden. In 2006, they won one game, four in 2007 and five wins a year ago.
Biggest Surprise: Temple
When Temple opened the season with a loss to FCS opponent Villanova, no one expected much from the Owls. But in a loss to Penn State, the Owls discovered they could play with any team in the country and rattled off nine consecutive wins to become one of the most talked about teams in the country. With a lot of talent coming back, Temple should be the favorite to win the East next year.
Biggest disappointment: Toledo
With so many senior leaders and playmakers returning this season, it was disappointing to see the Rockets win just five games. Two of Toledo’s loses came to teams with losing records, including Miami-Ohio, which only won one game this season.
Game of the Year: Temple 34, Miami-Ohio 32, Nov. 5
A loss a winless Miami-Ohio team not only would have stopped the Owls winning streak, it would have still put them a game out of securing a bowl and taken them out of first place in the MAC East. The Owls needed a Brandon McManus field goal with three seconds remaining to notch the win that would be their seventh in a row.